If you have been hanging out here for awhile, then you know by know how much I like sweet things. Sometimes I even consider changing this site to one for desserts, biscuits, cakes and stuff… Yes seriously. But I suppose, as great as that may be, I mean I would get to eat ALL those cookies/cakes/treats (!), it isn’t what I really want Straightforward Nutrition to be all about.
Of course having something sweet, once in awhile, is a sure-fire way to feel amazing, yet have too much and it loses its appeal. Back to that elusive balance again…
A few weeks ago my pre ordered copy of My New Root’s AMAZING book. Seriously some people are just geniuses when it comes to food! I love Sarah B’s approach to food and health. Keep it simple, seasonal and delicious. And it’s all about using the best ingredients available. Because when you do, everything will taste delicious.
I’ve already eyed up a couple of things to try. Next, just to find the time to cook through it. Because the book is laid out in seasons rather than breakfast /lunch / dinner / snacks etc. you have to read it from cover to cover to be able fully absorb it all. Once you have that done, then she makes it seriously easy to get into the swing of cooking by season. Which is what we all should be doing really.
Seasonal cooking may seem like a challenge at first but as soon as you step out of your comfort zone and begin to think outside the box, it isn’t that difficult really. And what you find is that seasonal food just taste a million times better! You know this already. Strawberries in December anyone? (Unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere of course…)
I don’t know if these Salt n’ Pepper Oat Biscuits (cookies for you U.S. peeps) qualifies as seasonal cooking. I like biscuits all year round… However this was the recipe from the book that spoke to me first.
I’ve been wanting to make a “healthy” biscuit for a very long time now. A biscuit, with superior ingredients and one with a spectacular crunch! Not the chewy kind… I particularly love crunchy, crumbly biscuits. However most of my own healthy cookie creating attempts, until now, have been futile. Chewy, yes. Crunchy, no.
This biscuit hits the spot. Sarah B’s genial combination of sea salt, coconut sugar and the addition of black pepper gives you an incredible taste experience. Best of all, they are made from straight up ground oats.
To be honest, I haven’t actually tried the original recipe yet… My version is heavily inspired by the recipe in the book but I decided to try it with ghee rather than coconut oil. So these guys are a little different. If you don’t have ghee, you can use normal unsalted butter. Or try the original coconut oil version. The original recipe also calls for chocolate chunks, but since I didn’t have any and they turned out delicious anyway, I’ve left it out.
I’m sure you can find other ways to enjoy that chocolate… 😉
Salt’n Pepper Oat Biscuits
Makes about 15 biscuits / cookies
80 ml melted ghee – or butter or coconut oil
2 heaped tbsp rice syrup
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cup rolled oats, ground into flour
1/3 cup coconut sugar – alternative would be rapadura sugar or light muscovado sugar
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
Set the oven to 170 C. Grind the rolled oats in to flour using a decent blender. ( I use my Nutri-bullet) Mix the dry ingredient in a large bowl.
In a small sauce pan, melt the ghee. Then add the brown rice syrup and the vanilla extract. Stir until you have an even mixture. Add your ghee / syrup / vanilla mix to the dry ingredients and mix with a large wooden spoon until you have a wet dough. ( Try to refrain yourself from eating too much of this…)
Spoon out blobs of dough onto a lined baking tray. Aim for one heaped spoon of mixture for each cookie. Gently shape the mix into small patties. Bake in the pre heated oven for about 20 min, or until golden around the edges.
Allow the cookies to cool slightly on a the tray before moving to a wire rack to allow to cool completely.
Store your cookies in an airtight container. I really have no idea how long they will keep as mine where gone in three days… A qualified guess? A week.
(Recipe inspired by My New Roots Cookbook – Inspired plant based recipes for every season)
Just incase one Christmas treat recipe wasn’t enough, here is a second one. I’m still making a few give-away treats, so just so glad I got all my presents bought early. Apart from making the last few presents I am all set for the holidays now. Just have to pack my suitcase and then I am ready to return to my roots for a few days. I look forward to spend some time with my family back in Sweden. Even though I have lived more than 10 years in Ireland now, I can’t get into the Christmas spirit in the same way here. Perhaps it is just the fact that it’s not cold enough. Not that I’m complaining (!) but it does not feel like “real” winter when it is 10 degrees and raining…
This recipes is from a Swedish cookbook I got as a present from my mother a few years ago. The book ticks all the right boxes to earn a place on one of my bookshelves (which are overloaded at this stage). The recipes are straightforward, using wholesome ingredients and with mouthwatering pictures. I really am such as sucker for good food photography! And cookbooks. At this rate I am afraid to count how many I have! Next year I won’t buy any. Or maybe just one. Or two… Select ones. Is it just me or is there other people like me who collects (cook)books?
So back to the recipe. This is a non bake fruit and nut “cake”. It is decadent, yet not too sweet and packed with goodness from all that fruit and nuts. Serve it as a treat with a cup of tea or coffee. Why not a slightly bigger slice as an alternative dessert for Christmas dinner? If you are looking for a gluten free alternative to the traditional pudding and trifle, then this is it. You can soak the dried fruit in some brandy/rum/whiskey and no one is missing out on the booze either 😉 To make it dairy free I have used coconut milk instead of cream. Either works fine. To get the most out of this special chocolate extravaganza, don’t skimp on the quality of the chocolate. Use at least 70%. Then ditch the tin of Cadbury’s Roses and indulge in something far more satisfying.
As the original recipe is in Swedish, I have translated it for anyone who does not speak the lingo
Fruit & Nut Truffle Cake
Makes one bread loaf tin
400g dark chocolate – At least 70%
150 ml cup cococnut milk
1/2 cup hazelnuts – Toasted if preferred
1/2 cup walnuts or pistachios
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
½ cup dried fruit such as rasins, figs or cranberries – Or a mix of all three
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Once the chocolate is fully melted add in the cream and stir until well combined. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until evenly coated. Pour the chocolate mix into a lined bread loaf tin and put it into the fridge for a few hours to set. Once the truffle has set take it out of the tin and cut into small squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. The truffle will keep for a week. If it lasts!
Recipe barley adapted from Catherine Shuck’s Mer Nauturligt, friskare, piggare, smalare – ny mat med lågt GI
P. S. If you are looking for more ideas on homemade gifts check out these lovely suggestions from some of my favourite blogs.
Infused Syrup Gift Jars – from My New Roots
DIY Almond Butter with chocolate – from A Tasty Love Story
Christmas Granola – from Green Kitchen Stories
So Christmas is almost upon us. Again. Carols and jingles on the radio. Shiny lights in the streets. Santa ads on the telly. Minced pies and mulled wine. Smells of ginger, cloves and cinnamon.
It’s the same story every year. You think you have lots of time to get everything done. And then BANG, it’s December and so many things are scheduled and you are left wondering how you are going to fit it all in. Personally, I feel this time of year should be all about family, friends and relaxation. Not stress… And about good food of course! This year I got the present shopping done early, so not to be stressing about that. My plan is to have plenty of time to concentrate on making edible presents in the week or two before the holiday season kicks in. So far this is working pretty well, I have to say.
Christmas is about traditions. It is about preserving the ones we grew up with. It is also about creating new ones as life changes. A few years ago I began making my own Christmas treats. It can really get you into the spirit of the season. Baking ginger bread men and toffees made me reminiscing of fond childhood memories from this time of year. The smells of ginger, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. When the hot biscuits come out of the oven. Or the chewy toffees with that indulgent taste of cream, butter and dark sugar.
This new tradition of mine has grown and developed into a way of making edible presents to give away to the people who means a lot to me, as a way of saying thank you for their friendship and support throughout the year. Giving away something someone has put love and effort into is often much more appreciated, than just any old tin of biscuits you pick up from the shop.
The type of treats I make can vary from year to year. This year, in the spirit of nutrition and health I have decided to give away some truffles. Healthy ones, that can be enjoyed by everyone. Most traditional treats are full of sugar, cream and butter. Nothing wrong with that the odd time, but it won’t work if you are intolerant to dairy or gluten. Or perhaps you just fancy a lighter alternative amongst all the calorie dense stuff, without sacrificing taste. Then these truffles are perfect. It is hard to believe they are actually good for you!
Date Truffles are probably not the most original recipe. You can find endless variations of them all over the internet. However they are so easy to make and the perfect guilt free treat. (Well in my humble opinion anyway) I couldn’t decide which taste combination to give you so I give you three. Then you can be sure there is something to please everyone.
Date Truffles Three Ways
Makes 15 truffles
2 cups pitted dates
2 tbsp raw cacao
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp cacao butter, melted – This is optional. If you can’t get it substitute for coconut oil
1 1/2 tbsp ground almonds – Use ground sunflower seeds if nutfree
1 tbsp shredded coconut
OPTION 1 – Orange & Coconut
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 tbsp orange zest
shredded coconut to roll the truffles in
OPTION 2 – Coffee & Cardamom
1 tbsp very strong coffee
1 tbsp raw cacao + 1/2 tsp ground cardamom to roll the truffles in – Alternatively you could add the cardamom to the basic mix
OPTION 3 – Chili & Liqorice
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
1/2 tsp liquorice powder
Good quality coco powder + 1/2 tsp liquorice powder to roll the truffles in
Gently melt the coconut oil and cacao butter in a double boiler. Add dates, melted oil and the rest of the ingredients to your food processor. Add your choice of flavours. Blend until a sticky dough is formed. This will take a minute or two. I chose not to soak the dates before hand as it will give a more solid truffle. Roll little truffle balls with your hands and then roll them in some shredded coconut or cacao powder. Store your truffles in the fridge in an airtight container until you are ready to serve them. Or give them away! They will keep for a week in the fridge.